People close to me tell me I’m a peaceful person and that I carry an air of peacefulness and serenity. Hmphf. HMPHF. I guess. The truth is that sometimes I don’t feel much like that on the inside, but peace is critical to me and getting there is an ongoing battle of choices. You see, I really really REALLY dislike gut-wrenching or even just unsettling feelings of anxiety and discord and contention. (You do, too, I’m sure.) I even tested mostly ‘white’ on one of those online personality tests…the results told me that peace is a huge deal to me (no surprise there). So I make ‘rules’ for myself that decrease anxiety in my day to day life. Here’s a list of 10 of those ‘rules’…in no certain order and probably not even the Top 10, but some darn good ones that help me go through my days with more peace and less anxiety. How can that be anything but a good thing? Let’s roll…
1. Park in the same row every time you shop.
One thing that makes me looney tunes is when I go to the grocery store and I have twenty zillion things on my mind and I’m trying to remember my list and all the other things I need to do in my day, etc etc etc. Then I check out and push my cart out the door and…..I can’t remember where I parked.Then I have to humiliate myself by pushing my cart all over the lot, back and forth, up and down, until I finally find my car (at which moment I go, oh yeah! now I remember! Argh.). One day after this happened for the zillionth time, I decided right then and there that I would never let it happen again. I would park in the same row from then on. I chose the middle row of the parking lot as ‘MY ROW’…a perfectly fine row that usually has a pretty good spot open since it’s not the closest to either of the two entrances. If ‘MY ROW’ is kind of full and I have to park waaaay out there, well my thighs can use the walk. Guess what….IT WORKS. I always know exactly where to head when I exit the grocery store. No worry, no thinking, no anxiety, no embarrassment. Bingo. I now apply this rule whenever I park in any big lot. I LOVE this rule!
2. Wait 48 hours before saying yes to anything.
This is the secret for those who have a hard time saying no…those who get roped into doing all sorts of things they don’t want to do until they find themselves over-committed and worn out. Here’s how it generally happens….you get cornered or someone calls you up and asks you to serve on a committee or build a booth for the school carnival or be your daughter’s soccer coach or… you fill in the blank. You feel cornered and put on the spot and you’re a nice person, so you say ‘Okay’ or even ‘ Of course, I’d love to!’ Then you think about it later and kick yourself because you’re already over-committed and that ‘one more thing’ is going to put you over the edge. Now…in order to make room in your life for people you LOVE and the things you LOVE to do, you simply must prioritize and make choices, and that means saying no sometimes. And saying no is awkward and feels weird, especially when you are cornered and you don’t have time to think. So the rule is this: NEVER say yes right off the bat….give yourself at least 48 hours. Practice saying, “Let me think about that and check on some things, and I’ll get back to you in a couple of days.” Say it with a pretty smile, and the person will be perfectly satisfied with your answer. Then you CAN think about and make a good decision. It might be yes, but it might be no. And after 48 hours, if your answer is no just say, “I’ve really given it some thought and checked on a few things, and unfortunately I’m just not going to be able to fit that in right now. Thank you so much for asking, and I hope next time you ask me again.”….something like that. Don’t explain why! If they are rude and pressure you or ask for an explanation, just keep repeating yourself. “I’m so sorry, it’s just not possible for me right now.” You’re in charge of yourself. You’re gonna love me for this rule. PS. Nice people won’t pressure you…they will cheer you on for setting priorities and knowing your limits. Truth, baby.
3. Be early. You know the feeling….you’re in the car, rushing to some thing or another,and you are barely going to make it even if every light is green and the traffic cooperates. You keep frantically checking the clock on your dashboard, and the seconds and minutes fly by. You say mean things to the cars in front of you…. things like, ‘Come on! Come oooooooon!!!!! Move it!’….snippy things a Brave Girl like you generally doesn’t say. You tap impatiently on the steering wheel. You drive too fast. You finally scream into the parking lot at the very last second, or maybe even late. You’re embarrassed and distracted and your heart is beating fast and you’re sweating…you rush in and have to apologize for being late. You’ve been there…I have. And there’s NOTHING peaceful about that situation. Good news is the cure is simple…decide that you will always be early. Decide that from now on, if something starts at 7:oo, in your mind you are planning to be there at 6:45. You may be surprised, because it’s actually pretty easy most of the time. It’s a decision, and the rewards are sweet. Here’s how it’ll go….you’re in the car…when you happen to glance at the clock on the dashboard once in a while you smile…you have plenty of time. You smile at people in other cars. You listen to the radio and sing along. You notice the pretty scenery along the way. You get to your destination and you see that you have a few minutes to brush your hair and put on some lipstick or make a phone call or just sit and collect your thoughts. When you go in you feel put together and calm. You feel good, you feel GREAT. You feel in control….you feel peaceful. Be early. Totally worth it.
4. Put the house to bed. Mornings…we have one every day. Generally the way we have done things (or not done them) the night before determines how things will go in the morning. Did you ever get up and walk into the kitchen and feel exasperated or short tempered because there are dishes in the sink and stuff all over the counter? You have to shove things out of the way just to make breakfast. You’re looking for papers you need or that the kids need. You’re trying to get things done quickly so you can get out the door, but things keep getting in your way. Your living room is cluttered with everyone’s ‘stuff’…someone is frantically looking for lost homework or shoes or keys. Chaos! My friend, here’s what you do…. before you put your own sweet self to bed at night, put your house to bed. Take five minutes to clean her up and tuck her in. Everyone in the family can help with this, even the littlest kidlets. Pick up the living room, load the dishwasher and turn it on, clear the counters, put things where they belong, set out the things you’ll need to take with you the next day. Honestly, it’ll just take a few minutes, and it’ll pay off BIG with a more peaceful and calm morning.
5. Make your bed first thing in the morning. No matter what. Even if your room is a sea of chaos and clothes and messiness, if you make your bed it’ll stand in the middle of it all like an island of order and serenity. And it’ll feel GOOD. Next time you make your bed, time yourself. You’ll find that you can probably make your bed in less than a minute, and you’ll feel better all day long!
6. “Go outside and play!”. I’m sure there are studies and scientific research that tell us what happens to our minds and bodies and souls when we are outside in nature, but we all learned this as kids…. there is something magnificent that happens when we are outside. Most of us could easily spend the whole day inside, so we have to be intentional about this. Make sure that every single day you get outside in nature. Fresh air, trees, water, grass….no matter what time of year. You’ll feel anxiety and pressure and stress slip away.
7. Unload the dishwasher before you start cooking. Someone taught me this when I first started my family, and it’s so simple but pays off with big dividends. When you start a meal, just empty the dishwasher so you have someplace to put all the dirty dishes as you go. You know how it feels when you’re working in the kitchen and the dishes are piling up, and you’re juggling a dozen different things, and things get messier and then you’re putting things on top of other things and running out of space…aaaak! If your dishwasher is empty FIRST, you have someplace to put all those dishes as you go. That dishwasher will have to get emptied sometime anyway…so why not do it FIRST and avoid the massive pile-up? If you don’t have a dishwasher, run a big sink of soapy water and drop the dirty dishes and utensils in as you go. Booyah.
8. Put your shopping cart away. It’s the right thing to do, even if no one else does it. And it feels good.
9. Say ‘You could be right.’ With very few exceptions, it’s just not worth it to win an argument or to even have an argument…even if you’re sure you’re right! This is one of my favorite things, because it keeps the peace and shows people that they are important to me, and it means I don’t have to have arguments or ‘discussions’ to prove a point. When someone says something that I could argue with, such as “Actually the right way to fold those towels is like this…” or something that I don’t necessarily agree with but really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, I just say, “You could be right!” It doesn’t mean I actually agree or that I’ll do it that way. (And they really COULD be right, I guess.) Most things simply don’t matter enough to disagree or fight about them.Practice saying, “You could be right!” Then smile, because…well, you know.
10. Ask for help. For some reason, we girl-types sometimes think we have to carry the whole big ol’ world on our shoulders, and that everything will collapse if we let up for a second. Then when things get to be too much and we feel overwhelmed, we get cranky and short with people, and we feel unhappy and definitely not peaceful. Girl, ya gotta ask for help. It would be nice if everyone just pitched in and helped without being asked, but give that fantasy up…they are probably not going to. So ask…just ask. Kindly tell people what you need and how they can help you. Don’t get mean…don’t demand or criticize. That’s not going to get you to that peaceful place you want. Ask before you get cranky…ask when you’re still able to be sweet and cheerful. Just ask…and never punish people when they fail to help if you haven’t asked them to. Just ask.
There are LOTS more we could talk about…I’m sure you can think of a bunch. Another 10 Brave Girl Life Hacks are coming soon…. If you have peaceful living life hacks, share them in the comments below and we’ll compile them into a future post.
Wishing you brave and peaceful living!
PS. I do realize that sometimes certain situations and medical conditions cause anxiety that can’t be prevented by such simple little tactics. I’m sure you understand that I am talking about something entirely different…daily annoyances that can cause simple anxiety and that can be prevented by personal choices.